Geraldine Brown

Colleagues and friends, the nursing shortage, how may we help, what are the solutions, our options, and what are the outcomes is big business concern, today. It appears that the present nurses, who are mostly “baby boomers”, are getting ready to hang up our “nursing shoes” forever. With the health care delivery system on “life support” with diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes constantly draining the human body, left is very little “fight” for the health care professionals.

Nursing schools have started programs, many have obtained grants from the federal government and other agencies to recruit, retain and graduate quality nurses. A closer look is needed at the schools of nursing and their curriculums, and the problem of many nonprofessionals, lack of experience, and non-motivational behaviors in many faculty members. Nursing is a profession for which one must want to care and be totally committed while allowing other people to sail in their boats of life, until they are able to sail in their own. The working environment, salary, and the competitiveness of personnel, should be a major factor in the nursing profession.

The keys to success and how to achieve professional goals in nursing should be an added feature in the nursing school curriculum. Critical thinking has been an interest or concern in the nursing curriculum, but all appears to be a “joke”, because most of the time, it seems an expert in the field is difficult to locate, who can fully explain the concept to faculty and/or students. With critical thinking, creative thinking should also be incorporated. There are faculty members who are not on the “cutting edge” of the profession and many are not aware that nurses no longer are taking vital signs, administering medications, and performing treatments in the traditional ways that we were taught over thirty years ago. We are continuing to write everything within memory on long drawn-out documents, with an added feature of “computer frustration.” It appears that nursing school administrators are not able to recruit and maintain professors who are not only educated in the field, but are also in practice as a registered nurse. It is imperative that professors know what is being done in practice in the health care field, and stay abreast of all changes in equipment and methods of administering the best of care to patients at all times.

Is going an extra mile the answer to nursing woes and getting people to come back, stay or enter the profession? Education should be a major factor because it equals patient safety. According to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study says “the amount of collective education a nursing staff has is as important to patient safety as the nurse-patient ratio.” The authors of this study discovered that, for every ten percent proportional increase in a hospital’s number of staff BSNs, the risk of a patient dying within a month of admission was reduced by five percent.

Another study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, focused on postoperative patient survival. The researchers explored whether the proportion of RNs holding bachelor or higher degrees was associated with risk adjusted mortality and failure to rescue. Researchers examined medical records from approximately 232,342 general, orthopedic, and vascular surgery patients discharged from 168 hospitals in Pennsylvania between April 1998 and November 1999. Proportions of nurses with BSNs or higher degrees at observed hospitals ranged from none to seventy seven percent.

Since the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has appeared to invade the body and receiving most of the attention from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), many minds have placed this still viable fatal disease on the “back burner.” This disease is still alive and refusing to be captured, and taking lives by the busloads.

The knowledge of the HIV and its sero-status is and has always been an important element in HIV Prevention and treatment efforts. According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (2003), it has been noted that in year 2000, among the estimated 850,000-950,000 persons living with HIV in the United States, approximately one fourth (180,000-280,000) were unaware that they were HIV infected. Also, many of those persons with HIV were tested late in the course of infection, and were tested because of another illness.

An update in the HIV/AIDS pandemic is still focusing on minority and young women and the continuing risk; a major health crisis for infected African Americans; and the problem of getting tested for HIV, even if safe sex is enforced.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Tucker Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group